Monday, January 08, 2007

Today we woke up at the 7am. For those of you keeping track, this is 5am “normal time”. Maybe some of you have met me. For those who haven’t, ‘7’ isn’t a number I often see at the front of the clock in the morning and ‘5’ is significantly rarer.

But breakfast was being served and the vans boarded at 8 to take us to our project sites. Here we have the eating and main congregational area that our bunks overlook:

All things considered, the meals and living conditions are excellent. Everyone is very friendly and very accommodating. There are people here from all over the US, many of whom who are visiting for the third or fourth time already.

For most of the Seattle Works group today’s project was going to be some kind of mold removal and control. Our trip to the work site took us down to the waterline where the hurricane hit the hardest. Most places along the beach looked like this:

Except for these:

Interesting, that.

We pulled up in front of a pair of houses. One was mostly finished (or looked to be from outside) and the other had been gutted, but needed to be treated so that mold and mildew couldn’t make a comeback.

It’s hard to see in this picture, but notice the red-on-white sign on the top-right of the porch.

That sign says “water line” and shows how high the water had come. Keep in mind that this was a storm surge—not flooding from broken levees like they had in New Orleans. This water was whipped up by the fury of the storm—like what happens when you aggressively mix liquid in a bowl. The water stayed at that level for hours, accompanied by 120+MPH winds. All along the coast.

The other Seattle Works group (including Noelle) spent the day cleaning up the resulting mess in areas that hadn’t been touched in the last year and a half. They weren’t just cleaning up deck chairs and branches, there were, to paraphrase, “ladles and cutlery…like the guts of the houses were pulled outside and thrown for miles.”

But I digress. Our team was cleaning wall frames and rafters with a special solution, then painting everything with “Killz,” which will keep the mold and mildew at bay. We're a good-lookin' bunch:

I had an incident with a ladder and an air conditioner. This is a dramatic re-enactment.

We stopped for lunch and played volleyball at a beat-up football field where the Salvation Army feeds hoards of volunteers every day. It’s very cool to see so many non-profit and volunteer groups work together at something like this.

Also, it was sunny. This is a happy departure from monsoon season back home.

The painting phase of our project highlighted interesting personality differences in our group. These two (Julie on the left and Marty on the right) were doing the same thing all day:

I looked more like Julie. So did Jan:

We worked hard and the Gulf Coast was thankful:

We got a lot done today, but there is so much more that needs to be done. I heard an estimate today that, at the current pace, it would take 28 years to rebuild all of the houses that were destroyed. I guess you can’t do anything except to keep doing the same thing.

Word on the street is that we’re diving into drywall tomorrow. Stay tuned.

PS - If you're interested in reading more about what the Seattle Works group is up to, take a look at Noelle's blog and the Seattle Works blog. A number of different people from the group will be posting at the SW site, so it's a great place to hear other voices tell our story!


Colin said...

Hey Ryan - I'm really enjoying the blog and photos. Thanks for updating it on schedule! And kudos to you for going and doing this!

Rainster said...

Enjoying the updates and commentary. Keep it up!